Monday, August 16, 2010

Options for None

"Step out left, 90 degrees, to left forward stance left lower block. HUT! Step through to right forward stance, right lunge punch. HUT! 180 degree turn behind, front foot moves clockwise, stepping out with right forward stance right lower block. HUT! Step through left forward stance, left lunge punch. HUT!"

Don't forget to bend your front knee. Can you see your big toe?

Back leg straight.

Hips forward.

Both hands load up strong for the block.

Turn your front foot in.

Step strong! You're in a fight!

Snap your head! Look where you're going. Eyes up!


I didn't have to think through any of that. It's as automatic for me to teach kata to karate students as it is for me to wash my hair first in the shower. I can zone out while I watch a group of students performing techniques but really that is when I'm in my prime. That's when I can figure out their body mechanics and hone in on what is causing them to do moves incorrectly and fix them.

Like tonight a girl was punching more like an arm swing rather than a straight shot. And it wasn't because she didn't now how to move her fist. It was because her elbow moved first, drifted off her body and, you know how that kids' song goes, the elbow bone's connected to the wrist bone. So by correcting the right piece of the system, the whole system works effectively.

What the hell does this all even mean?

I have no idea.

It's a big, fat metaphor for life right? Step back, find out what's not working and why. Fix the why, step back, look again, let it ride, tweak some more. Small changes in the right places can mean huge improvements. But you have to know how to find the right places.

Tonight another student asked us if we were ever going to be Masters. While I have learned to never say never, the likelihood of that ever happening is not something I'd bet my house on. I did manage not to laugh out loud though.

So if I'm not on track for that (or on track for really anything), what's the point of still going, still showing up, still putting in the time to teach and promote the martial arts?

Later elbow girl told us she was practicing her self-defense with her father and she started the "what if?" game with us. "What if he grabs my other hand? What do I do? What if he kicks me? What do I do?" I love those types of questions. That's when you know you've got a student who is excited. Or maybe scared. Or both. Oh man, yeah, teaching self-defense is probably the #1 reason I am still teaching karate. Not only do I feel like I am helping people, but I freaking LOVE doing it. The "what if?" questions from students fuel my brain and keep me trying to learn more.

We had to tell elbow girl that you have to crawl before you can run. And that the things we teach have to be practiced (a lot), that sometimes things don't work the first time and you have to try something else, but we'll teach her (or anyone) more than one way to get out something. And giving up is not an option.

Giving up is not an option.

How's that for another big, fat life metaphor?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What Would You Do?

Yesterday we stopped for gas on the way to visit family for lunch. While I pumped gas and spaced out in the Florida heat, Hubs called out to me to look over at the pickup truck at another pump across the lot. At first glance all I saw was a man and a young, maybe 10 year old boy. Then I saw the baby. She was maybe 9 months old and she was sitting on the boy's lap. I looked at Hubs and said "maybe her car seat is in the back?" His response? "In that pickup truck?" To my dismay I realized that it was not an extended cab truck. Hubs commented that there were three of them and no child safety seat for the infant. Then I realized there was a very large woman who was hidden by the gas pump. So that made 2 very large adults, 1 young boy and a baby to fit in a two-seater (i.e. only 2 seat belts) truck. And we watched in horror as the man got in the driver's seat, forcing the boy with the baby in his lap to straddle the middle area, then the woman got in the passenger seat. As they started to drive away I told Hubs to get their license plate while I searched for a pen in the mess of my car.

We ended up calling the Florida Highway Patrol to report them. They took the information and then transfered me to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, who also took the info. I have no idea if they took me seriously or not.

That truck happened to be headed in the same direction as us and we followed them for a good 15 miles before they pulled off in to a shopping plaza and we continued on. I was hoping, so hoping, to see a cop car zoom up and bust them. I wanted to know that my phone call made a difference and that baby would be safe.

I realize that the family may not have been able to afford a bigger car or a car seat. I realize that nothing will probably come of my phone call. And I know that everyone has problems and issues and most of the time we do the best we can with what we've got. But I draw the line at driving with a 9 month old child sitting across your lap as you drive down a very busy, fast highway.

Would you say anything to this family? Would you call to report them also? Would you turn your back and ignore them?

I am so afraid I am going to read about this in the local paper.

"Baby Not Secured In A Safety Seat Ejected From Truck In Minor Traffic Accident Dies At Scene."

This makes me sick to my stomach.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Fiction

I've been home for several days. Back to the daily grind. Back to work. Back to the kids. Back to teaching karate twice a week. Back to exercising and staying up too late in an attempt to find "me time," all the while forgetting that sometimes the best "me time" is to sleep. Yeah, I don't get enough sleep. And I never seem to have enough time to write.

NYC and BlogHer was a really great experience for me even though I did not buy a knock off hand bag. Years of heartbroken disappointment after annual meet-ups with another organization taught me to know my limits, to set realistic expectations, and to accept myself for who I am, not who I think I want to be.

The people I expected to be awesome were awesome. So awesome in fact I commented to them, at the end of the weekend, in a quiet moment when some of us were in the same space but surfing Twitter or the Interwebz from our phones, that I was so happy it was so comfortable with them. That it was like walking away from my computer screen and an awesome Twitter conversation, and in to real life and an equally awesome conversation face to face. It flowed naturally and being around them was just easy. And I love them. They inspire me in different, simple and wonderful ways.

There was a little drama, but I expected drama. I was a little dismayed that at one party many women looked down their noses towards me because I was not already a part of their crowd. My attempts at conversation were thwarted early. But that's ok. After listening quietly for a short while I knew the loss was theirs, not mine. And I left happy to have spent an evening one-on-one with the friend who I attended the party with.

I sang karaoke at a real karaoke place. And for someone who sings a lot and sings fairly well, someone who has acted on stage and sang solos, I was terrified. But it was very late, I was tired, and I am glad the music was loud to sort of drown out my voice, the flashing glittery globe masking my jitters. I am grateful for friends who cared more that I was there than what my voice sounded like.

I met a lot of amazing new people. Several made me laugh, laugh, laugh out loud. Hard. I enjoyed honest conversation with others. I found the nerve to tweet Linda and ask her if I could find her and say hello. (And whoa I was a total dork) I did not find the nerve to introduce myself to others. I hugged Heather twice. And it was all ok. I am happy.

I am also incredibly grateful for a friend back home who held my hand virtually on Friday when I was so overwhelmed with the size of the conference and the constant "go-go-go" of an over scheduled day.

My fondest memories of the conference are not of the parties nor the 3 boxes of loot en route somewhere between NYC and here. They are not of the panels or the elevator hell. They are of the people. The smiles. The hugs, however brief the moments we caught them. Knowing that those I think are so awesome on Twitter and their blogs are really amazingly real, and not just fiction. I needed to know they were not just fiction.

Pictures to prove it!

I capped the weekend visiting with friend I have known since I was eight. The last time I saw her was her wedding seven years ago. She brought her young daughters to the city to spend only a couple hours together with me. And despite the seven years with scarce (if any?) phone calls (but annual birthday emails), we picked up right where we left off, caught up, moved forward, reconnected, and created new memories. Seeing her was like a piece of my heart finding its way back home again. There is something special, very, very special, knowing the comfort of that kind of friendship.

I will go again to this conference. It might not be next year but I will go again. There are many more of you who couldn't go, didn't want to go, or chose not to go. I want to meet you too. I want to know that you are real and not fiction.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Take Me Back to Manhattan, Take Me Back to New York

Anyone know what musical my post title comes from?

So in two days, TWO, I will be headed to NYC for BlogHer. I only know one person there in real life. But I've met some great people through this blog and Twitter and many of them will be there too. I'm not going to kid you, I'm excited. This is a big deal for me.

I love NYC. It scares the pants off me (you know, crime) but I LOVE the energy there. I love the crazy skyline, I love the water. I spent summer vacations as a little girl, on Long Island, driving through the city on the way there from Buffalo and back, spending time with my family there. I went with my high school music group, and saw my first Broadway play (Cats) there. I've been up the Empire State Building, to the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and several museums. I have stood at Ground Zero a year after 9/11 and cried. I love New York City.

Yes, part of this trip is about business for me. Marketing is my thing. I'm attending sessions about things I can bring back and use for what I do. But this trip is about more than that to me. This is my attempt to put myself out there again. To make friends who don't have any preconceived ideas about what I may have been like when I was 18 and young and naive, or when I ran a karate school and didn't mind sticking my neck out against higher ranks if I truly believed the cause I was standing up for. To meet people as who I am now, with my strong personality, my integrity, and my heart-on-my-sleeve-completely-non-poker-face face. I'm excited to meet you all too.

I am going to feel insecure. I won't lie. My heart is going to feel like it will pound of out my chest at times. But I am going to be smiling. I am going to laugh. I'm going to have eyeballs the size of saucers as I take it all in and enjoy it. I am going to appreciate the opportunity I have to go and remember to thank everyone I come in to contact with who helped put it together. I am probably going to be a huge dork.

But that's ok.

I give really good hugs.

And I want to give a lot of them while I'm there.